Hid'n at the Hemi Hideout

In the muscle car world, there are game changers that seemed to have a major impact.  The ’57 Chevy always comes up in hot rod talk, along with the split window Corvette, the first gen Z28 Camaro, and of course a stable of hot Mustangs to choose from.  While there are plenty of other muscle cars to choose from, any of these classic cars with a strong following of fans can make a case for that choice being the car to have in the driveway.  One thing that almost all hot rodders and muscle car enthusiasts can agree on, even though there is a long list of performance features to be found, the mention of one engine always raises an eyebrow – the HEMI.

The concept of the HEMI has been around since 1901 in a variety of configurations on both sides of the Atlantic.  Ford used the hemispherical chamber designed heads on the flathead V8 in the late 1940s, and later in the mid-60s, continued develop with the production of the ‘Cammer’ – a 427 Ford with the specially shaped combustion chambers.  The engine was particularly successful on the drag strip for several years, with Connie Kalitta’s ‘Bounty Hunter’ winning several top fuel events in 1967.  Other OEMs that worked with the hemispherical chamber design include the like of Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, and Porsche to name just a few.  However, it was the Chrysler Corporation trademarking the term HEMI as part of the growing MOPAR performance branding effort that was particularly adept at promoting to the youth of America. It was the growth of the muscle car segment that made the HEMI a household name.  Somewhere along this time, Houston native John Hovis got his first real taste of the MOPAR magic with a 1968 Superbee.  The love affair with the performance brands from Chrysler would stay with John, as he learned more about the HEMI engines and became a really big fan.  As these things go, family comes first, but that does not stop the dream of someday owning those cars that John would see on cruise nights across the Houston area.  When the opportunity came to actually own one of those muscle cars that got away, it seemed like the natural thing to do.  That was over 20 cars ago, as more of the big block Mopars came to hideout in Brookshire with John.  When there was no more room in the storage barn, another was converted, and when that ran out of room due to even more vintage automotive related signs, neon lights and cars being found, it was time to do something new.  Not only is Houston the fourth largest city in the county, it is the largest city in Texas, which means there is a lot of opportunity to mix and mingle with car enthusiasts in a variety of ways.  As a member of multiple car clubs, John would attend club events and find the cruise spots, supporting the local car shows as often as possible.  So when John needed a new building, he saw the opportunity to build an automotive themed event center.

Located about 40 miles due west of Houston, near Brookshire, on a secluded acreage, sits John’s tribute to his lifelong automotive passion – the HEMI Hideout.  At over 20,000 square feet, the beautifully designed building is the largest timber frame facility in Texas.  At 54 feet tall, the graceful arches are assembled without nails or glue, only using wooden dowels in an architectural design to create a cathedral effect that seems fitting for an event center.  In addition to being able to show 20 of the vehicles that John has on hand, the facility has a 1950’s style sofa fountain and diner area that feeds into the nostalgic feel among all the Detroit Iron.  Of course, with this much auto history, there has to be all the accessories.  John has become a collector of vintage auto neon signs, with hundreds of different lights that shine on the brightly painted vehicles in the wooden shrine.  One particularly notable sign is a 1930’s era Dodge sign that was never uncrated at a dealership, and it is now mounted in the original crate that still holds the working relic.  There is also an extensive collection of porcelain signs, as well as restored gas pumps, smaller John Deere tractors, and several early Triumph motorcycles.

There is also room for Johns’ office.  However, it is a good thing that there is an extensive outdoor area for events as well due to the unique automotive event center gaining more notoriety - booking car club events, corporate events, and even a few weddings  At this rate, the HEMI Hideout may not be a hideout much longer. For more information on the HEMI Hideout, visit www.hemihideout.com 

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